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burningWhat: Burning by Danielle Rollins

Who: Bloomsbury Childrens

When: July 1st 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia for review.

After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is now months away from release. She’ll finally get the hell out of Brunesfield Correctional Facility.

And then Jessica arrives… she’s young – only ten years old – so why did she arrive in shackles under the highest security? And why is she being kept in segregation? No one knows what she did to end up there. But there are plenty of rumours.

Pretty soon strange things start happening to Angela and her friends. Could they be down to Jessica?

This little girl might just be more dangerous than anyone expected…

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I instantly wanted to read Burning when I found out about it. I love mystery/thrillers, as well as books set in prison, and the fact that this was likened to Stephen king was also a huge bonus. However, for as much as I liked Burning, I felt like that thriller edge was somewhat … missing.

The blurb made me believe that Jessica would be the creepiest little girl in the world. That she would be terrorising the place, and hurting people, and just generally causing a major shit storm. However, except for the main character’s first interaction with Jessica, she was a pretty normal kid. Even when bad things started happening, I believed Jessica when she said she wasn’t the one doing them. So I did feel like that uber creepy kid aspect wasn’t as present as it could have been.

Possibly my favourite thing about Burning was the diversity. Every single one of the four main characters were girls of colour, and one of these girls was gay. I was just super happy not to be reading about a cast of all white and straight people, which happens far too often. I will say that the fact that all four girls were high level juvenile offenders could have some negative inferences. Although, I was still glad to see characters of colour on the page, especially since this book isn’t contemporary (I think we all know most diverse rep occurs in contemporary YA).

I wanted a bit more from Angela, and to be completely wishy washy about it, I’m not even sure what it is that I wanted. I just never felt that super awesome emotional connection towards her character, the one that makes you root for them, and care for them, and worry about them when all the bad stuff is happening. I found her interesting, and her voice was very easy to slip into and read, but I just wanted to feel for her, and that never really happened for me.

The romance felt somewhat out of place. Don’t get me wrong, it does not take over the plot, and it is extremely subtle and sweet, but I don’t know if it was something that the story needed. I actually did like it – the boy was nice and cared about Angela – but I never felt like I was really necessary or 100% believable, either. I would have preferred to have seen even more of the relationship between the three main girls, because their friendship was more of a found family, and I love that.

Burning was incredibly addictive. I wanted to find out everything about what was happening, and I’d read a hundred pages before I knew it. I love it when a book manages to keep me reeled in like that, and it’s definitely one of the things I love best about mystery/thriller books in general, and Burning specifically.

The ending is one that had me wanting a lot more, and I’m glad that there is a companion novel coming because I need to know what happened!

If you’re looking for a YA mystery/thriller with a different edge to it, then I definitely recommend Burning.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: death via fire, animal cruelty, murder, prison violence (guard-inmate and inmate-inmate), and physical assault in this novel

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Posted on: July 15, 2016 • By: Chiara

6 Responses to Review: Burning by Danielle Rollins

  1. Sorry this wasn’t quite the creepy book you were hoping for and expected. I would have thought it would have more of that too – so I suppose it’s good to know now. I do love that the girls were very diverse though!

    -Lauren

  2. Romi says:

    This sounds like it could have been (and was, in some instances) such an interesting novel (she says, not having read the synopsis, only having read your review, which *is* my thing but hey. I garnered all the information I needed from your excellent review.), although I am struck a little by the fact that a. it’s wonderful the four MCs were all girls of colour, but b. that is highly problematic, in its own way, like you mentioned. I definitely love the fact diverse characters are at the forefront, but the fact they’re all offenders could be (and is) so harmful.
    At the same time, though, I like the fact this is set in juvie and is painting a picture (hopefully at least a moderately accurate one?) of youths who are brought in by the justice system and are more than just a face to an action. That element intrigues me and although I doubt I’ll read this, I do find myself quite keen to see how that was handled.

    I’m sorry the romance felt like it came on too quickly and didn’t really work/seem necessary. Sometimes books seem to do that, just toss in a romance because the potential is there, but sometimes it’s the potential and no action that really works the best.

    Yay for their being a follow up for you to look forward to, Chiara! YOU WILL (hopefully) GET ALL YOUR ANSWERS. *cheering all round*
    Lovely review, sweetie. xx

    • Chiara says:

      Yes, it did worry me a little when I did realise that the four MCs were the highest-level offenders in the prison, but at the same time I was also glad to not be reading about a cast of all white characters yet again. It’s difficult in this case, I think.

      I think in the beginning, before this turned more into the sci-fi/paranormal side of things, the depiction of juvie was pretty accurate. It was a shitty place, and the guards were not the greatest, nor was the food or dorms or clothing.

      It was weird, the romance, because I DID like it, but I just didn’t know if it should have been in there. But I did enjoy how sweet and slow burning it was.

      YESS. I am looking forward to the companion novel, and I hope I do get some of my answers!

      Thank you, lovely <3

  3. Over the past few months I have been fascinated by the Stanford Prison Experiment (have you heard of it, Chiara? If not, do look it up – it is terrifying and compelling and intriguing). I’ve been reading many, many books set in prison, perhaps to see if I can glimpse any trace of what went wrong in the Stanford experiment, or to understand an environment I will (hopefully!) never experience. I am certainly picking this one up, love – thank you so much for sharing it with us. xx

    • Chiara says:

      I have heard of it! I think there was a movie made about it, but I haven’t seen it yet. Ah, the guard-prisoner dynamic in this book is quite intense, so I think you would enjoy reading Burning! Another YA book set in a prison is The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (but that one is less about the prison and more about the character and her past. Still interesting, though!). I hope you like this one if you do read it one day :D

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